Danville community prepares thousands of shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child

Published: Nov. 14, 2023 at 4:53 PM EST
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DANVILLE, Va. (WDBJ) - Volunteers are collecting shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child as part of National Collection Week to send a little Christmas cheer to children in need all over the world.

The shoeboxes are filled with gifts, school supplies, and hygiene items. There is also a book inside that invites them to The Greatest Journey – a 12 week program that teaches children about the birth of Jesus of Nazareth.

“It is important for the children to get the word of Jesus to them at an early age, and they seem to appreciate it.” said Joann Bell, Collection Center leader. “In the boxes, it’s very important to put the school items like paper and pencils, because if they don’t have it, they don’t get to go.”

Once the shoeboxes are dropped off at collection centers, they make their way to children in more than 100 countries.

In just the first two days, the Pittsylvania Baptist Association collected 2,178 shoeboxes from the community.

There are five drop-off locations in the Danville-Pittsylvania County area.

“They just can’t hardly believe that somebody across the world sent them a box of toys or hygiene items. They seem to be very appreciative of it,” added Bell.

Since Operation Christmas Child began in 1993, more than 209 million children have received shoeboxes for Christmas.

Joann Bell has collected over 234,000 boxes during her 20 years of volunteering.

“One of the first stories I heard was when a little girl opened her box and she was a hot country. Of course, it’s too hot to wear gloves in that country. She said, ‘oh, I need the gloves’ and raised her hand up and looked at them. They were bloody and cracked. She said ‘I have to carry water for my family.’ So, the gloves were a blessing to her. We just don’t understand how God can see that the right thing goes to the right child, but he does,” said Bell.

They will be collecting shoeboxes at the Pittsylvania Baptist Association until Monday. Other drop-off locations can be found here.